We Just Tried eBay Now And It Rocks — Here's How It Works

eBay Now courier AprilApril is an eBay Now courier.

Photo: Owen Thomas, Business Insider

Welcome to the future of local shopping—delivered by eBay.eBay Now, an on-demand delivery service, picks up goods from local stores. Its couriers—they call themselves “shoppers”—deliver your purchases to your door in about an hour. You pay a $5 delivery and local sales tax.

San Francisco has become a battleground for local delivery services, with two startups, Postmates and TaskRabbit, vying for business, and a third, Uber, contemplating getting into the business.

But eBay has been quietly working on eBay Now for months. It just launched it to a few select customers, including local-commerce expert Rocky Agrawal.

We had to try it ourselves. So we snagged an invite and went shopping.

The invite arrives by email. You click a link to install the app. Here's the splash screen.

You log in with your eBay account.

We also noticed a name in the copyright notices: Dmitry Stadnik. According to LinkedIn, he's a Czech iOS app developer.

Here's a clue to how long eBay's been working on eBay Now: The privacy policy is dated May 2012.

On to the app! When you get started, eBay greets you with all kinds of folksy suggestions.

The categories give you an idea of what you should shop for—gadgets, for example.

Get a rug delivered for just five bucks—why not?

The hour-long delivery window makes a lot of impulse buys possible.

And sometimes time is of the essence.

Look at these partners—Macy's, Toys 'R' Us, Target, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, and Best Buy.

You can also navigate by category or search.

There's a fairly deep selection of gadgets.

But we thought we'd go for clothes instead. Time for a new pair of jeans!

What size? We took a stab. If you need to return or exchange something, you have to do that through eBay Now—you can't take it to the store.

eBay already had our shipping address from our regular eBay account. That's a powerful advantage eBay has over startups.

A map popped up after eBay assigned the delivery to a courier, April.

The app had already added eBay Now's phone number to our contacts. Before we knew it, our phone was ringing! April was on the line.

The delivery took about 10 minutes longer than originally forecast, but the app kept us updated. We could even see where April's car was.

Here's April! We recognised her instantly from the app. She had a few questions for us, since eBay is testing out the service: Did we like the $5 price? (Yes.) Would we recommend it to friends? (Already have.)

She used an iPhone with PayPal Here, eBay's answer to Square. She had a version of the eBay Now app, too.

Here are our jeans! We got a great deal—free delivery for the first purchase, and $15 credit. Oh, and they fit perfectly—so no need to figure out how to return them.

eBay has a lot of competition. Uber, the on-demand limo service, is thinking about doing deliveries ...

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